Smart window design could heat or cool a house as required

Smart window design could heat or cool a house as required
Windows are a key element of a buildings design that not only increase the aesthetics, but also greatly help in increasing the heating and cooling efficiency of the house. A new study by University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oxford researchers provide insights into what smart window design is capable of as the new design can harvest the sun’s energy in the winter to warm the house and reflect it in the summer to keep it cool.

The work was recently published in the journal ACS Photonics wherein scientists have said that their innovative design is capable of absorbing near infrared light from the sun in the winter and turn it into heat for the inside of a building. In the summer months, the sun can be reflected instead of absorbed.

The film is made up of an optical stack of materials less than 300 nanometers thick, with a very thin active layer made of “phase change” materials that can absorb the invisible wavelengths of the sun’s light and emit it as heat. That same material can be “switched” so that it turns those wavelengths of light away instead.

The key thing is that the visible light spectrum remain untouched and is transmitted almost identically in both states, so you wouldn’t notice the change in the window.

The material could even be adjusted so that, for example, 30 percent of the material is turning away heat while 70 percent is absorbing and emitting it, allowing for more precise temperature control.

Harish Bhaskaran, professor at Oxford’s Materials Department, who led the research as well as the WAFT consortium said, “Here, we exploit tuning how invisible wavelengths are transmitted or reflected to modulate temperature. These ideas have come to fruition with the aid of our long-standing industrial collaborators, and are the result of long-term research.”

The researchers estimate that using these windows—including the energy required to control the film—would save 20 to 34 percent in energy usage annually compared to double-paned windows typically found in homes.

About the author


ahadmin has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.